Comic Review: Lumberjanes #1-3
When I first heard about Lumberjanes, I was sure all of my comics dreams had come true. A completely female-centric story about five girls at a summer camp, solving mysteries with a Scooby-Doo-esque dynamic; is there anything not to love? I was already a huge Noelle Stevenson fan (she is one of the writers, working with Grace Ellis). I had a nagging doubt that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, so I waited for the first three issues to come out before making up my mind.
In general? Lumerjanes is awesome! The first issue brings the reader into the dark woods, immediately before an epic battle against three-eyed foxes. We are introduced to the girls in action–Jo, the tall leader-type; April, her sidekick and Diary scribe; Molly, the sweet-tempered one; Mal, the worry-wart; and Ripley, the ball of energy.
Brooke Allen’s art style is fun and expressive, and the colors by Maarta Laiho are lush, perfectly creating the summer camp atmosphere. Their camp sign reads “Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiquil Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types” with “Friendship to the Max!” tacked onto the bottom. The story strikes a nice balance between goofy light-heartedness and dizzying action. There are some hilarious gems in the writing, like the names of the scout badges–the Pungeon Master and Everything Under the Sum badges are my personal favorites. (Another fun detail: the back cover of each issue features all of the badges that have been mentioned thus far, so the readers can feel like they’re the ones earning them).
Gradually we become accustomed to the dynamic between the girls. Molly and Mal are an item, and they are adorable, their scenes having just the right amount of bashful shyness. Jo and April are close friends, and Ripley is the hyperactive comic relief character. I do hope that her character is developed more–for the moment she reminds me a bit too much of Donnie from the Wild Thornberries.
My one critique of Lumberjanes might also be considered one of its greatest strengths. This is a fast-paced, action-packed, non-stop story. Part of me wants the action to slow down and give the characters time to breathe. [A few spoilers ahead] In one scene in the third issue, Molly causes the team to get into a few scrapes involving booby traps and feels like she is letting the team down (apparently forgetting she had saved her girlfriend a few hours before). It is a lovely, honest moment that is immediately resolved on the next page, when she rises to the occasion and helps the girls out of their current jam. The scene was well executed, but I think there may have been more power in it had she dwelled longer in self-doubt.
It is a critique I am almost reluctant to give because it is such a unique problem. This comic is about five girls and is almost pure action. Five girls! Pure action! How often can that ever be said in the current comics world? Lumberjanes is filling a void and doing it with aplomb. There is nothing out there like it, and I have a feeling that now that it has been become an ongoing series, the pacing issues will resolve themselves.
If you haven’t checked out Lumberjanes yet, then I just have to steal a line from my favorite gang of camp-goers and say to you, “What the junk!”